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Here's why 1,688 farmers signed up to plant 502,323 acres of winter grains.

September 27, 2010

1 Min Read

Maryland has approved a record 502,323 acres of winter grains in the Cover Crop Program, which was requested by a record 1,688 farmers. That's up from 1,233 in fiscal year 09-10.

It represents 155% of Maryland's two-year Bay milestone for cover crops, boasts Earl "Buddy' Hance, state ag secretary. "We commend and thank all farmers who have enrolled, adds Hance. "Maryland's cover crop program is very attractive and flexible, and has potential to do more for the Bay than ever before."

This year, Maryland provided about $15 million in cover crop funding through the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share program. In a nutshell, farmers could plant traditional cover crops at a base rate of $40 per acre with up to $55 per acre in add-on incentives for highly valued planting practices.

In other words, a farmer in a targeted watershed could collect a maximum of $95 an acre by no-tilling rye by October 1 in fields where manure had been applied last spring.  Harvested cover crops wouldn't be eligible for that payment level.

But they would be eligible for $25 per acre with a bonus payment of $10 per acre for planting rye. Producers could choose whether or not to harvest next spring. But the cover crops could be grazed or chopped for livestock forage for on-farm use after becoming well established.

Because Maryland is a relatively small farm state, the overall cost of this program is not as overwhelming as it might be in a state with far greater numbers of farms and acreages.

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